More from the quarter sessions rolls
A book of excerpts from Wiltshire’s quarter sessions great rolls gives us a flavour of what was and wasn’t acceptable behaviour in the 17th century.
In 1609, nine persons were indicted ‘for buying and selling Butter and Cheese without licence – as common jobbers’. However, in 1634, William Long of Potterne was granted a licence to be ‘a common driver, carryer and buyer of butter and cheese in the open markets and ffayres in the county and sell the same in the open markets and ffayres of Market Lavington, Amesbury, Uphaven and Marlborough.
Sabbath breaking was not acceptable although it sometimes happened in the village of Urchfont, just a few miles from Market Lavington. In 1648, complaints were made that ‘William Blankett of Erchfount hath for almost one whole year sold beare or ale without authority from the Justices … for the great disturbance of all and griefe of ye … godly and religious people of Erchfount.’ He also ‘did entertain certaine of ye inhabitants … at cardes on … ye Lords Daye…’ The minister and seven others lodged this complaint and did ‘intreat yor worpps … to restrain him from selling beare or ale for ever hereafter…’ In 1682, there was similar reproach for Thomas Gilbert and Levy Giddens of Urchfont who, on several Lord’s Days, did ‘inordinately drinke and tipple in the howse of John Hazell’, a millwright in All Cannings parish.
Another item of interest regarding Urchfont was that James Claston, a coalfinder, had permission from the ‘Lord of the Manor of Erchfont, to dig there for coal, which he hath great hopes of finding’. At first the tenants encouraged him, but then feared he would dig in their grounds and the miners were ‘ready to desist for want of pay.’ James Claston appealed to the court to assist him, but didn’t appear there. The petition was marked ‘Noe order, he was absent.’